International solidarity in a time of pandemic crises, courtesy of Numsa, sadly did not garner the media attention bestowed on the xenophobic Only One South Africa march in Pretoria.
To mark the Zimbabwe Global Solidarity Day, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) held pickets in Pretoria, Johannesburg and in Cape Town to highlight ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe at the hands of the Zanu-PF-led government. The Mnangagwa regime is accused of harassment and persecution of trade union leaders, activists and journalists during a crackdown on dissent in recent months.
Among its demands, Numsa wants the African Union to investigate human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The union also demands that all political prisoners in Zimbabwe be released. “As Numsa, we are saying that the Zimbabwean government must free all political prisoners; they must accept that there are political parties that are followed by people and have different views. There must be political tolerance and freedom of speech, freedom of association,” said Western Cape provincial secretary, Vuyo Lufele.
Lufele said they want Mnangagwa to be investigated for abduction, torture and illegal detention and prosecuted if there is evidence of this. The recent nurses strike for better working conditions and US dollar denominated salaries was brutally repressed by the police.
In August, the International Trade Union Conferederation sent a letter to the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, objecting to the ruling party’s labelling of the Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress as a “terrorist organisation”.
In the Pretoria leg of the picket, Numsa’s president, Andrew Chirwa, handed a memorandum to the office of the Zimbabwe High Commission.
“Metal workers in South Africa need to start talking to their Zimbabwean counterparts and also include other workers to ensure that we build resistance against the brutality. If we are united, then all federations get together to make sure that we assist each other to get out of the crisis. Right now, anyone who has a dissenting voice in Zimbabwe is arrested or killed but if we are united then they don’t stand a chance,” said Lufele.
Zimbabwean teachers are expected to go on strike for better salaries when schools re-open for exams next week Monday.